I’m not a big rhythm player, but I’m a big nervous arcade player, and I especially love games where you have to do two different things at the same time. You could say the variant “knock your head and rub your stomach”. Orbeat, the first project by two childhood friends who call themselves Arcade Avenue, combines all these elements in one. While the rhythmic aspects are certainly there, I’d describe this as a twitching arcade game in the first place, and very satisfying at that.
The main concept in Orbeat is to pop asteroids with your ship as they orbit you, much like other rhythm games where you have to tap while a larger circle closes on a smaller one. The nice twist here is that to do this you have to pull your brain in two different directions.
There is some sort of wheel on the right side of the screen that controls the direction your ship is facing and you need to pop these asteroids head-on or they will cause you damage. There’s a similar wheel on the left side of the screen, but instead of your direction, it controls what color you switch to.
Not only do you have to turn around and face each asteroid, you also have to be the same color of the asteroid you are popping to earn points for popping it. As you can imagine, as the speed and difficulty of approaching asteroids increases, coordinating these two mechanics makes for some seriously hectic moments.
Arcade Avenue has compared Orbeat to Super hexagon but with color and beat matching. For me now Super hexagon is as close as possible to gaming perfection without being named Tetris, but in terms of the adrenaline rush you get when things get really crazy, I think it’s a pretty apt comparison.
The main two-handed mode I just described is great on its own, but Orbeat does something pretty interesting by offering two additional modes designed for one-handed portrait play. Each of these modes is essentially based on a single wheel from the two-handed mode. So in Match mode you just control the color wheel and all aiming of your ship is automatic, and in Aim mode you only control the aiming wheel while the color change is done automatically for you.
Both modes are surprisingly great time killers if you just want to get something out of a one-handed game quickly, but they also allow you to hone your aiming and color-changing skills separately so that when you jump back into the two-handed mode, you actually feel like you are that your skills have been developed. It’s like they got you to practice by making two fun additional modes to practice.
Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised at how clever it was Orbeat turned out and how polished experience it is for a studio’s first project. Best of all, it’s free to download and play with ads so you can try it for yourself, and there’s a one-time IAP of $ 1.99 to remove ads if you like.